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EpicBritain's Heroic Muse 1790–1910$
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Herbert F. Tucker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199232987

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199232987.001.0001

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On Calliope's Jalopy: Epic Rebuilt 1790–1800

On Calliope's Jalopy: Epic Rebuilt 1790–1800

(p.49) 2 On Calliope's Jalopy: Epic Rebuilt 1790–1800

Herbert F. Tucker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The book's proper narrative commences in this chapter. Into the 18th century's preponderantly theoretic disposition to prize or illustrate epic as a fixed idea or classic form, the Revolution in France sent shock waves that galvanized literary experimentation in Britain. Poets of the 1790s rebuilt epic from used and jury-rigged parts, in a process that favored specimen or torso models and that the chapter brings into focus around the issue of ‘machinery’. How did the angelic or allegorical machines in these epic thinkers' improvised prototypes drive the reinvented genre, and to what end? Unresolved yet productive tension between romance plots and standard epic patterns brought forth radical initiatives from Darwin and Blake, and generated the decade's farthest-reaching work by Landor and Southey.

Keywords:   French Revolution, experimentation, machinery, romance, Blake, Southey, Landor

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